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Schools don’t have to fail: Here’s how we fix education

In an earlier Salon article, I described the failure of our educational system, which imprisons children’s bodies and minds and undermines their natural curiosity and zest for learning. I also described a radically different paradigm, in which children are in charge of their own education and learn in their own natural ways, and I summarized evidence for the success of this approach. In response to that article, some have asked me how these ideas might be applied on a larger scale, to enable all children to learn this way. Here I describe a vision for the future of education in our society and a path for getting there.

Let’s start with what everyone can already see. A child engaged in self-directed learning is a marvelous sight to behold. Her unrestrained curiosity leads her to discover the things that genuinely interest and matter to her. Her drives to explore, understand, play with, and thereby master those things, and her joy when she succeeds, are palpable. Such a child is fully alive to the world and to learning. This is what education already looks like for children who have not yet reached “school age.” As I explained in the previous article, it continues to look like this, all the way through childhood and into adulthood, for those lucky enough to retain control of their own education, in settings where they can continuously expand their learning horizons. It can look like this for all children.

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